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Living with Birds Jackdaw: clown of the crows Tweetapedia

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Jackdaw: clown of the crows

As a rule, not many of us welcome members of the crow family to our gardens. There is, however, one exception - the jackdaw.

Its name reflects its size: the jackdaw is the smallest of the British crows and the name Jack was once used as a diminutive for boys, just as Jenny was for girls (hence Jenny wren). They can be found the length and breadth of Britain; only in the extreme northwest of Scotland are they absent.

Jackdaws are always busy birds, invariably up to something. Centuries of persecution have made them wary and suspicious of man, so their visits to gardens often take the form of quick raids, grabbing a morsel from the birdtable before flying off to eat elsewhere. However, where they become used to man they can become bold, even friendly, strutting round picnic tables in search of scraps.

Despite their suspicion of man they are fond of nesting in buildings and show particular enthusiasm for chimneys. If left, these constructions can build up to huge proportions. Nests up to five feet deep, consisting of thousands of sticks, are not uncommon. Holes in trees are the most typical natural sites, where jackdaws often compete with stock doves, little owls and even ring-necked parakeets. Jackdaws have a special affinity with rooks and the two species are often seen foraging together. The sight and sound of rooks and ‘daws flying to their evening roost is one of the most evocative of the British countryside in winter.